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Ask Dr. Mike: Truth About Vegetable Oils, Nightshade Vegetables & More

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

I read that vegetable oils are not as healthy as we think. I thought they were healthy, now I'm confused!

Vegetable oil is an unsaturated fat that includes omega-3's. However, there could be a couple of issues when they process the oils. These include GMOs and chemicals to help preserve them.

What is a nightshade vegetable? I was told by nutritionist friend not to eat them. Should I really avoid these?

Nightshade vegetables come from a family of Solanaceae plants. Dr. Mike thinks it depends on your personal sensitivity. If these foods aren't doing any benefit and causing you some issues, you should consider avoiding them.

You have said that the blue light from our devices is bad. Will privacy shades block exposure?

Dr. Mike thinks it depends on the shade, and to also never assume that a privacy shade does work to block all exposure. You may want to do some research before buying anything.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: May 6, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

It's time for you to be a part of the show. Email or call with questions for Dr. Mike now. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-711-5211. What are you waiting for? The doctor is in.

DR MIKE: Alright, that's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I love this part of the show, so send me your questions. If you want, you can try to stump me. It probably isn't that hard to do but I love this part, as I said. So, here is the first question. It has to do with vegetable oils. You know, sometimes I answer, and I've said this before, I answer these questions right off the cuff. What's on top of my head. But sometimes I do have to do a little research. This one, I had to do a little research and I usually have some help. There are some great health advisors here at Life Extension that help me out with all this.

"I read that vegetable oils are not as healthy as we think. But I thought they were healthy. I'm very confused,"

and that's all that was said. So, there's really no question here but if I can extrapolate, I think the question is, you know, are vegetable oils healthy or not? Well, I mean, in its purest form a vegetable oil is healthy. It's an unsaturated fat. Usually, there's Omega-6s in vegetable oils, mostly. A little bit of Omega-3s. You know, there's even some Omega-7s which are monounsaturated.

So, I mean, yes, in its purest form, there's nothing wrong with a vegetable oil. They are healthy but the problem is how we process them today. So, a couple of the health advisors here at Life Extension who are really into the oils, the essential oils, the coconut oils. I mean, they do a lot of research and, you know, their opinion on this was that probably if somebody is reading, you know, on whatever website you're on that vegetable oils aren't unhealthy, it's probably related to two issues. That's what we found.

One is the GMO issue-- the genetically modified organism issue--and then the other one is related to these chemicals that they add to the vegetable oils to preserve them better, to make them more stable. Those are called petroleum-based chemicals. And it's probably those two things where most of this idea that they're not healthy comes into play. So, GMO--genetically modified organisms. You know, most of our corn and soy in this country are genetically modified and I don't want this to become a debate about GMO but there are some people who take that very seriously. They don't want any GMOs in their food sources. They believe that, based on some research, that they're dangerous and those genetic modifications do alter our health and all that kind of stuff.

So, that's one aspect of it, especially if you doing canola, corn, soy. You know, those kind of oils, it's pretty much going to be GMO. So, that's one part. But, I think, and that's debatable but the one part that's probably not debatable in this is the petroleum-based chemicals that they add to these vegetable oils to stabilize them. You know, oils do go bad. Fats go bad. So, you have to do something to stabilize them and they often add things like BHA and BHT. These chemicals are petroleum-based and there's some good evidence in the literature that these may not be the best chemicals to be adding to food sources, especially when you heat them up, you know? So, prior to, I don't know, the 80's, when the big push against fats happened , you know, fats where the worst thing in the world. Stop eating fats.

We started eating more sugars, all that kind of stuff. Prior to that, in the 60's and 70's, we fried everything in lard, which, it turns out, is probably better than some of these vegetable oils that have these petroleum chemicals added to them because these petroleum chemicals, when they're heated up they do leach. They get in the food. You eat them and they're probably not all that great for us, so those are probably the two core issues here when it comes to saying vegetable oils are not healthy. The GMO issue and the petroleum-based chemicals. So, it's best to probably find oils that are more in the extra virgin classification, less processing. You can try to find some that don't have these petroleum-based chemicals added to them or just don't fry them. Don't heat them up too much because that's really where the where the issue comes in.

So, there you go. So, vegetable oils in the purest form are not unhealthy. They're actually good fats. It's the things we do to them--the GMO, petroleum chemicals. That's where the issue comes in. So, it is confusing. I'm confused, too.

Next question:

"What is a night shade vegetable?"

This comes from a gentleman named Dan.

"I was told by my nutritionist friend not to eat them. I just said, "Okay," not knowing what they were. I've since Googled them and see that they are linked to inflammation. Should I really avoid night shade vegetables?"

Well, you know, Dan, I don't know. I think it depends if you're sensitive to them or not. I mean, it's the same thing, maybe, with gluten sensitivities. You know, not everybody is gluten sensitive.

We don't have to have this anti-gluten thing out there. There's no reason to have an anti-night shade vegetable thing out there. I mean, I think it's if you're sensitive to them. What are the night shade vegetables? Anything that likes to grow more in shady environments. That's the night shade, you know, or underground. So, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, stuff like that. I think eggplant is always listed as a night shade. There's nothing wrong with those food sources, if you're not sensitive. I can eat those food sources all day along and I do just fine. But there are some conditions and some people who are just sensitive that you do want to avoid them but, I think we get ahead of ourselves a little bit.

We get a little crazy in this industry when we start demonizing food sources. I think it's really just a reflection of the fact that we're so blessed in this country. We're so blessed in the Western Hemisphere. I mean, we have food all over the place that we can demonize food sources but there are some people, some conditions. For instance, if you have arthritis, just plain old-fashioned arthritis or any form of "itis". You know, any inflammatory condition, Dan, it might be best to avoid night shade vegetables because that can increase inflammation. There are these things called glycol alkaloids in night shade vegetables that are linked to driving some of these pro-inflammatory pathways and stuff.

So, if you have any sort of "itis" condition, you might go on a night shade vegetable-free diet for a while and then you can add one or two back in and see if that causes some issues, a flare up. If it does, you avoid that night shade vegetable. And we have to be careful about lumping them all together. Just because you're, maybe, sensitive the peppers it doesn't mean you are sensitive to all night shade vegetables. That's not the case. It sometimes is the case, but not always. So, you do what's called an elimination diet where you eliminate them and then you add one in at a time and see which one really causes the flare up.

So, there you go. I don't know why your nutritionist friend is telling you this. Maybe you told this friend of yours that you have an "itis" of some sort and this nutritionist could be right. I just don't know but if there's a reason, Dan, for you not to eat night shade vegetables, like arthritis or like rheumatoid arthritis or any inflammatory condition--fibromyalgia or whatever, avoid them. Just wash them out. Stop eating them. Do kind of a night shade vegetable wash out phase for a month or so and then just pick one of them. Eggplant. Eat it and see if you get a flare up. If you don't, eggplant's probably okay. That's the elimination diet. We do that with food sensitivities.

Okay. Alright. Next question:

"You said," Oh, I love it when the question starts with "You said". It usually means a complaint.

"You have said..." So, it means I've said this more than once.

"You have said that the blue light..." Yes. Okay. Now I see the quote. Yes, I have said that.

"You have said that the blue light from our devices is bad, especially for our eyes and sleep. Will privacy shades or screens help reduce blue light exposure?"

Great question. I don't know if I have answer. I didn't look this one up. I don't know. I think it depends maybe on the shade. Maybe there's blue light absorbing privacy shades. I don't know. I think you just have to be real specific in your search. Don't assume that a privacy shade does, though. You may have to look or even just call the manufacturer, if they've looked at that, but that's a great question. Maybe there's a whole product line right there. Privacy shades for devices that block blue light. Hmm. Interesting! That's my idea. Don't take it. Great questions today. I love them. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Send them! I love this.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD.

I am Dr. Mike. Stay well.